Wichita Newman University joined a growing trend when it hired a director of Hispanic admissions to increase enrollment of this burgeoning minority group and help the students already on campus.
"In the past, Hispanics have been looked at as disadvantaged, but I just know so many that have been very successful," said Lori Wilson Sabogal, who took on the job at the Roman Catholic university in February. "But we have to realize they do have specific needs."
Sabogal, whose mother is Hispanic, attends events hosted by organizations such as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She said it's important to reach Latinos through the Catholic Church and stressed the importance of families.
"I think with Hispanics it can be more about talking with the parents over some pan dulce," or sweet bread, she said. "The family is important. I don't think I could do this without speaking Spanish."
The focus on Hispanic students appears to be having an effect at Newman. The incoming freshman class was 12 percent Hispanic last fall. Overall, 7 percent, or 156, of the university's 2,239 students were Latino.
Newman, which also has a summer science program aimed at Latino high school students, is not alone in targeting minority students to diversify enrollment.
Wichita State University has an admissions representative for students of color, although that category is not broken out by race or ethnicity.
A couple years ago, Kansas State University hired a Spanish-speaking recruiter to target Latinos and has printed many of its publications in Spanish.
Kansas University sent recruiters to western Kansas this summer to educate Hispanic parents about college life. Sessions were conducted in Spanish.
Such targeted recruiting isn't unusual, said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Assn. of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
"It's not uncommon to have very active outreach and programs to target specific groups," he said.